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Disconnecting what I assume is a hot water heater on steam furnace?

Would I have any issues disconnecting what I assume is a hot water heater on my Burnham steam boiler? I’m replacing our current hot water heater with a hybrid unit and installing it with PEX and Sharkbite connections. While I was looking into what I would need, I started noticing quite a bit of corrosion on the current copper pipe connections and started following the hot and cold lines. I noticed that a cold water line goes to the furnace and splits between the steam boiler fill and what I assume is a hot water heater. The hot water line leaves the furnace, goes to a tee fitting, which splits to what would be the cold inlet line to the electric hot water heater and to another tee. The second tee has a hot line coming from the electric hot water heater and then going to my kitchen sink. Whoever plumbed this in also used a tee after the first tee, to pipe the hot water line from the furnace back into the main cold water supply line. This explains why my hot water temp is so inconsistent (scalding hot to luke warm) in the winter and why the cold water isn’t always that cold right away.

So can I completely disconnect the lines going to the furnace hot water heater, and only leave the fill line for the steam boiler without damaging anything? Or should I plumb a line through the furnace and then directly to the electric hot water heater? The only issue I have with doing the later, is that I was planning on replacing all of the copper pipe I can see with PEX and it’s not rated for the temps coming out of the hot side of the boiler water heater. I could just use copper in the run from the furnace to the electric water heater, and then PEX for everything else. I can see the benefit of using the furnace to preheat the water to the electric hot water heater, but I’m worried that any prolonged use of the hot water while the furnace is on (ie shower), will make the water too hot. Btw the rest of copper piping in the walls is fairly new from renovations.

I also thought that if I do bypass the boiler hot water heater for hot water, could I add a water circulation pump and use it for radiant floor heating while the furnace is on for heating the rest of the house? My basement is unfinished, so the first floor floors are typically cold.

If pics are needed, hopefully I can post some. Some forums I’m on require a minimum number of posts before you can post pics.

Thanks,
Jay

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,736
    Yes @xenon55 , we'll need pics. Also, where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • xenon55
    xenon55 Member Posts: 5
    edited December 2019
    Here are the pics. I’m in central CT. I forgot to mention that I don’t know what model boiler it is. I can’t find any model or serial # tag. You can also see the condition of the pipe and connections and why I want to change them. I have the next few days off from work, but wasn’t planning on doing this when I submitted for them off.




  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,952
    That certainly is a creative arrangement...

    Yes you can disconnect the hot water coil in the boiler. Disconnect and cap the line after it splits from the main boiler feed and the disconnected line to the boiler. Then disconnect the line coming back out of the boiler (the one going to your water heater and various other odd places) but do not cap it. Leave it open. In the odd circumstance that water gets into that coil in the boiler (and it will), you do not want pressure to build up in there.

    Then set about completely and correctly organizing the hot and cold feeds to the new hot water heater. I have to admit that I'm not totally keen on PEX and Sharkbites on hot water, though I have used them with careful support -- but your new hybrid heater is unlikely to ever be able to generate temperatures high enough to be a problem.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,736
    Looks like a Burnham V3-series boiler. Can we get a full view of it?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,469
    Was this pre-heating or was it designed to use the tankless in winter and the electric water heater in summer?
  • xenon55
    xenon55 Member Posts: 5
    edited December 2019
    I wasn’t planning on putting a cap on the inlet or outlet if I can in fact just by pass it. I’d just leave them VTA. I just want to be sure nothing internally would be damaged before doing so. I know the boiler is old, but the techs are always surprised at how efficient it is when we have it serviced. Especially with how it looks. The previous owners didn’t have a dehumidifier in the basement. So that certainly didn’t help it. I’ll replace it at some point, but it’s still working perfectly fine for the time being.

    The PEX and Sharkbite connectors are really only to save time. I can sweat pipes, but don’t want to be without water redoing all of the plumbing in the basement. Wife and five year old...

    I was originally only planning on replacing the hot water heater. The old one hasn’t quite been the same when the transformer on the pole outside the house went. I do plan on installing a whole house surge protector.

    Not sure. This is how it was when we bought the house. I really shouldn’t be surprised, with all of the other stuff wrong we found. The worst was knob and tube wiring spliced to Romex in open junction boxes, with blown in insulation throughout the house. It’s a wonder the house didn’t burn down. Luckily we caught that during the inspection and had the price reduced. I’ve always turned the furnace off over the Spring/Summer, because there was an electric hot water heater. I do know that the way the piping is now was definitely heating up the cold supply line. I was checking the lines with an IR temp gun.


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,736
    Yup, a V3- probably a V33 or V34, depending on the number of sections it has. These things aren't the most efficient units out there, but they're built like tanks.

    There are plenty of Steam Men in that part of New England who could help you out- try the Find a Contractor page of this site.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • xenon55
    xenon55 Member Posts: 5
    Thanks